Current status of glyphosate in the EU
On 12 December 2017, the Commission renewed the approval of glyphosate for 5 years, following support by a qualified majority of Member States in an Appeal Committee held on 27 November 2017.
Therefore, glyphosate can be used as an active substance in Plant Protection Products (PPPs), until 15 December 2022, subject to each PPP being authorised by national authorities following an evaluation of their safety.
Some facts about glyphosate
- Glyphosate is an active substance used in plant protection products to control plants, which means it's a herbicide
- Glyphosate is the most frequently used herbicide both worldwide and in the EU and it has been used for several decades
- Glyphosate has been thoroughly assessed by Member States, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in recent years
- Glyphosate-based pesticides are used as herbicides in agriculture, horticulture and in some non-cultivated areas
- They are used primarily to combat weeds that compete with cultivated crops or present problems for other reasons (e.g. on railway tracks)
- They are typically applied before crops are sown to control weeds and therefore facilitate better growth of crops by eliminating competing plants
- This eliminates or minimises the need to use ploughing machines ("zero tillage" farming), thereby reducing soil erosion and carbon emissions
- Glyphosate is also used to a lesser extent as a pre-harvest treatment to facilitate better harvesting by regulating plant growth and ripening
What's next for glyphosate?
The EU pesticides legislation requires that the approval of all active substances must be periodically reviewed, starting with a scientific assessment by a rapporteur Member State, which is followed by a peer-review process overseen by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). A full description of the EU process for approval of active substances and authorisation of plant protection products can be found here.
Three years before expiry of the approval (i.e. by 15 December 2019), companies wishing to maintain the approval of glyphosate will have to submit an application for renewal.
On 21 March 2019, the Commission will propose to Member States a draft Regulation appointing several Member States acting jointly as the rapporteur Member State for the next assessment of glyphosate – this group of Member States will be known as the Assessment Group on Glyphosate (AGG). The draft Regulation will be discussed (but not yet put to a vote) at the meeting of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (phytopharmaceuticals - section legislation) on 21-22 March 2019.
Questions and answers
Why a group of RMS and not a single RMS?
In general, the Commission appoints Rapporteur Member States in a consensual way (i.e. with the agreement of the Member State concerned) and for each substance, one Rapporteur Member State and one co-Rapporteur Member State are nominated.
In the case of glyphosate, because of the expected very large application dossier and the related high workload, no single Member State volunteered to become Rapporteur Member State or co-Rapporteur Member State.
Following discussions with the Member States, a group of Member States have accepted to act jointly as Rapporteur.
Does the EU legislation allow multiple Member States to act as RMS?
Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 844/2012 lays down the provisions necessary for the implementation of the renewal procedure. An amendment to this Regulation to enable in exceptional cases a group of Member States to work jointly as rapporteur Member States, is also presented to Member States for discussion on 21-22 March 2019.
Which Member States will be part of the AGG?
The following Member States have agreed to be part of the AGG (names are given in alphabetical order): France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden.
The scientific work will be carried out by their respective national agencies.
The AGG will assess the application dossier when submitted by interested companies and will prepare a single draft renewal assessment report to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2021.
Why is this action necessary now?
Since the current approval of glyphosate will expire on 15 December 2022, the process for renewal must begin in December 2019, i.e. 3 years before the current expiry date (in line with the rules laid down in the EU legislation).
An application for renewal must be submitted by 15 December 2019, followed by the submission of a full dossier by 15 June 2020. The AGG will then start their comprehensive scientific evaluation.
Once the AGG has completed its scientific assessment, it will be transmitted to EFSA, which will oversee a peer-review process involving all Member States. A public consultation on the AGG’s assessment will also take place.